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Nutrition2000 - Infrared Rays & Cancer Information

Infrared Saunas

Excerpts from an article in the "Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients", May 2000 by Dr. Aaron M. Flickstein

Far infrared (FIR), also known as radiant heat, is simply a form of energy that heats objects directly through a process called conversion. We cannot see this band of light with the naked eye, but we can feel this type of light in the form of heat. Our sun produces most of its energy in the infrared segment of the spectrum.

Far infrared penetrates organic substances and water two to three inches so that the warming effect is very uniform. We live in a FIR temperature range. Our skin radiates 9.36-micron far infrared wave since our body temperature is 97.7 degrees Fahrenheit. This is very close to the resonant frequency of a water molecule. This makes perfect sense, since about 70% of our body is water. Among the energy spectrum coming from the sun, the far infrared waves are the safest and the most beneficial.

Infrared Saunas

Heaters in the Infrared saunas radiate at 2-25 micron, making it completely compatible to the body. Infra Red saunas are very economical; the cost of running a sauna for 30 minutes a day, every day for one month is between $2 to $3, compared to $20-$30 for a conventional sauna. Infra Red saunas have a warm up time of ten minutes compared to 20 to 30 minute warm up for a conventional sauna. Since far infrared penetrates the body, you are receiving the far infrared benefits even before the sauna warms up. You receive complete detoxification with the sauna set between 110 degrees to 130 degrees, making it comfortable to fully detoxify. Far infrared saunas work even with the window and door open, so it can be used with clothing on for a pre-warm up for exercise. They are portable and can be set up in 30 minutes or less, with six panels that are manufactured to fit exactly and held together with steamer trunk type clip hinges. This makes them portable for use indoors or outdoors. Many doctors are using the Infra Red saunas in their practices for pain relief treatments. These treatments cost from $30 - $50 for a 30-minute treatment session. Infra Red is approved by the FDA for treatment of pain relief and some insurance does co-payment for in-home saunas.

World Wide Reports

Over the last 25 years, Japanese and Chinese researchers and clinicians have completed extensive research on infrared treatments and report many provocative findings. In Japan, there is an "infrared society" composed of medical doctors and physical therapists dedicated to further infrared research. Their findings support the health benefits of infrared therapy as a method of healing.

There have been over 700,000 infrared thermal systems sold in the Orient for whole-body treatments. An additional 30 million people have received localized infrared treatment in the Orient, Europe and Australia. In Germany, physicians have used infrared therapy for over 80 years.

Cardiovascular Conditioning

The August 7, 1981 issue of the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) reported what is common knowledge today: many people who run do so to place a demand on their cardiovascular system as well as to build muscle. What isn’t well known is that it also reported the "regular use of a sauna may impart a similar stress on the cardiovascular system, and its regular use may be as effective as a means of cardiovascular conditioning and burning of calories as regular exercise."

It has been found that the infrared sauna makes it possible for people in wheelchairs, and those who won’t do exercise conditioning, to achieve a cardiovascular training effect. It also allows for more variety in any ongoing training program. Blood flow rises from a normal five to seven quarts a minute too as many as 13 quarts a minute. Because infrared rays penetrate the body over 1-1/2 inches, there is a deep heating effect in the muscle tissue and internal organs. The body responds to this heat with a hypothalamic-induced increase in both heart volume and rate, leading to beneficial heart stress and sought-after cardiovascular training and conditioning effect. Medical research has confirmed that the use of a sauna provided cardiovascular conditioning as the body tries to cool itself. Extensive research by NASA in the early 1980’s led to the conclusion that infrared stimulation of cardiovascular function would be an ideal way to maintain cardiovascular conditioning in American astronauts during long space flight.

In its Wellness Letter, October 1990, the University of California Berkeley reported that "the 1980’s was the decade of high-impact aerobics classes and high-mileage training. Yet there was something elitist about the way exercise was prescribed: only strenuous workouts would do, you had to raise your heart rate to between X and YT, and the only way to go was to "go for the burn." Such strictures insured that most ‘real’ exercisers were relatively young and in good shape to begin with. Many Americans got caught up in the fitness boom, but probably just as many fell by the wayside. As we’ve reported, recent research shows that burning just 1,000 calories a week is enough. Anything goes, as long as it burns these calories.

Guyton’s Testbook of Medical Physiology reports that producing one gram of sweat requires 0.586 Kcal. The JAMA citation above goes on to state that "A moderately conditioned person can easily sweat off 500 grams in a sauna, consuming nearly 300Kcal-the equivalent of running two to three miles. A heat-conditioned person can easily sweat off 600 to 800 kcal with no adverse effect. While the weight of water loss can be regained by rehydration, the calories consumed will not be". Two of the highest calorie output exercises are rowing and running marathons. Peak output on a rowing machine or during a marathon burns about 600 calories for 30 minutes. An infrared sauna may burn as many calories. It might in a single session simulate the consumption of energy equal to that expended in a six to nine mile run.

Health Benefits of Infrared

The McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology reports "medical practitioners make use of infrared radiant heat to treat sprains, strains, bursitis, peripheral vascular diseases, arthritis, and muscle pain…"

Dr. Masao Nakamura of the O & P Medical Clinic in Japan reported success with the use of infrared heat treatment for:

  • Whiplash
  • Sciatica
  • Menopause
  • Arthritis
  • Shoulder Stiffness
  • Insomnia
  • Acne
  • Gastroenteric Problems
  • Ear Diseases

Infrared Effects on Rheumatoid Arthritis

A case study reported in Sweden involved a 70 year-old man who had rheumatoid arthritis secondary to acute rheumatic fever. He had reached his toxic limit of gold injections and his Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR) was still 125. After using an infrared heat system for less than five months, his ESR was down to 11.

The rheumatologist worked with a 14 year-old Swedish girl who had difficulty walking downstairs due to knee pain from the age of eight. This therapist told her mother the girl would be in a wheelchair within two years if she did not begin gold corticosteroid therapy. After three infrared sauna treatments, she began to become more agile and subsequently took up folk dancing without the aid of conventional approaches. A clinical study in Japan reported a successful solution for seven out of seven cases of rheumatoid arthritis treated with whole body infrared therapy.

Chinese Studies of Infrared

Researchers report over 90% success in a summary of Chinese studies that assessed the effects of infrared heat therapy on:

  • Soft tissue injury
  • Lumbar strain
  • Periarthritis of the shoulder
  • Sciatica
  • Pain during menstruation
  • Neurodermatitis
  • Eczema with infection
  • Post-surgical infections
  • Facial paralysis(Bell’s Palsy)
  • Diarrhea
  • Cholecstitis
  • Neurasthenia
  • Pelvic infection
  • Pediatric pneumonia

Infrared Heat and Coronary

Finnish researchers, reporting the regular use of saunas state "there is abundant evidence to suggest that blood vessels of regular sauna-users remain elastic and pliable longer due to the regular dilation and contraction" of blood vessels induced by sauna use.

A group of hypertensive patients was studied using far infra red saunas, to carefully evaluate the effects on the circulatory system. With each infrared session, there was a decrease of blood pressure, cardiac ejection resistance, and total peripheral resistance in every subject. There was also a significant increase of heart rates, stroke volumes, cardiac outputs and ejection fractions. The researchers cite these last three effects as evidence that stimulation of the heart during infrared induced hyperthermia is well-compensated, while the prior list of effects show clear detail of the microcirculatory changes leading to the desired result of lowering blood pressure.

Effects on Blood Circulation

Many ailments, associated to some degree with poor circulation, may respond well to infrared treatments. Arthritis, Rheumatism, Sciatica, Strained muscles, Backache, Fatigue, Hemorrhoids, Stretch Marks, Nervous Tension, Menstrual Cramps, Children’s Overtired Muscles, Varicose Veins, Neuritis, Bursitis, Leg and Decubitis ulcers (that fail to heal using conventional approaches) may all respond. Post operative edema (treatment has proven so effective, hospital stays were reduced by 25%), Peripheral occlusive disease ("the goal is to maintain an optimal blood flow rate to the affected part), respond well. In general the temperature should be maintained at the highest lever, which does not increase the circulatory discrepancy as shown by cyanosis and pain" Therapeutic Heat and Cold, pp.456.

Mikkel Aaland’s book Sweat quotes a Finnish Doctor: "The best dressed foreigner can come into a doctor’s office, and when his skin is examined, it is found to be rough as bark. On the other hand, as a result of the sauna, the skin of any Finnish worker is supple and healthy.

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